As the rays of the sun pierce gray mid-winter skies, the 2020 Carnival season – the first of a new decade – is underway in south Louisiana and the Gulf region.
The traditional opening of the ball of the Twelfth Night Revelers occurred Monday, Jan. 6 in New Orleans, heralding several weeks of balls, dinners, luncheons and other private affairs, as well as the culminating public parades.
One of Carnival’s oldest krewes, the Twelfth Night Revelers held its first ball in 1870 and its succession of queens included at least two young ladies with Pointe Coupee Parish roots: Eliska Tobin, daughter of John and Eliska Provosty Tobin, in 1928, and Lorraine LaCour, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Arthur B. LaCour in 1932.
As usual, the Carnival season will climax in New Roads, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma and other communities on Shrove Tuesday itself, which falls on Feb. 25.
Organizers and potential revelers hope for comfortable weather for the parades and other outdoor events, as rain and/or unusually cold weather marred several parades in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Mardi Gras 2014 was the worst weather-wise in all of Carnival history, with freezing rain, road and bridge closures and myriad traffic accidents cutting attendance at the parades or causing their cancellation.
The Community Center Carnival Parade, founded in 1922 and Louisiana’s oldest after Rex, Proteus and Zulu, will parade at 11 a.m. Feb. 25.
The New Roads Lions Carnival Parade, an annual event since 1941 and successor to the Mothers Culture Club Children’s Carnival Parade, will roll at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.
Both will follow the extended 3-mile route inaugurated in 2012.
As since its founding, the Lions Carnival is staged as a fundraiser for local causes, specifically for those area schools that will enter competitive floats in the parade.
New Roads’ duo of parades, as has occurred other times in history, will feature complimentary themes: the Community Center portraying “At the Movies” and the Lions presenting “Movies Made in Louisiana.”
The Livonia Carnival Association will roll on at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, with floats depicting the theme “Oh, The Places We Go.”
In 2019, the Livonia parade rolled at 10 a.m., or three hours earlier than its traditional kickoff, in an attempt to dodge threats of serious weather.
Rain did fall but failed to diminish the enthusiasm of an estimated 5,000 townspeople and visitors who applauded 15 floats.
Chilly but sunny weather marked Fat Tuesday in New Roads, as scores of floats, marching bands and dance troupes entertained throngs estimated at nearly 70,000.
As traditional, kings and queens of all three parades remain anonymous until their ceremonial unmasking at their respective organization’s reviewing stands during the parade.
The history and traditions of New Roads’ Carnival are highlighted in a feature article in the current issue of Louisiana Life magazine.
The exposure afforded the local celebration and possibility of warmer weather could bring near-record or record crowds to the Pointe Coupee Parish capital this Mardi Gras.
The continued popularity of Carnival events in Pointe Coupee Parish, which have their origin in the 19th century, is indicative of the community’s longstanding commitment to the preservation of the charitable and civic-oriented nature of the local parades.
Persons of all ages find something of interest in the myriad ways in which Pointe Coupee observes its most hallowed annual tradition.
“Joyeux Carnaval 2020,” from Carnivalus Mysterious, the chronically-committed Carnival chronicler, nowhere yet everywhere at all of the events.